Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Passage to Southern California

MAYAN winning her class in 2016 Master Mariner's
Old Boats Need Love 

But work and family obligations tend to push boat projects back, and back, and back. After two years of sailing MAYAN around Santa Cruz and San Francisco, racing her hard, making a list of things we wish were different, it was time to get busy and address some issues. 

For example, it was time to remove and pack up the last components of the water-maker aboard MAYAN. Water-makers are great devices that make fresh water from salt water by pushing it through a membrane at extremely high pressure. This is something that would have seemed magical to anyone from the golden age of sail, along with diesel engines, GPS, and email by radio. But today water-makers are rather standard aboard cruising boast.

Once the water maker membranes were removed and the hoses pulled out, I set about removing the plywood they’d been attached to. Darn! There are never “good” surprises on a boat. This time, hidden by the membranes and their mounts, there were some rotten deck beams beneath the cockpit. Laying on my back I broke a few 2” pieces off of the deck beams with my fingers. Time to sail back to Wayne Ettel’s boatyard! MAYAN needs a new cockpit floor.

A passage to Southern California

Getting MAYAN to Wayne's boatyard in Southern California resulted in five of us meeting aboard MAYAN in Santa Cruz Harbor at 0700 on a beautiful late June morning. Our crew was: Gene Sofen, Alex Rickabaugh, Lance Burc, Dick Watts, and me. It’s always a joy to have shipmates you can trust. It lets a skipper sleep well!!  We left the harbor at 0900 to an oily 4’ swell from the south and no wind at all. But… the forecast was looking “sporty”. 
In addition to a MAYAN Spa Date at Wayne's boatyard, we intend a bit of cruising in the southland. The St. Francis YC Commodore's Cruise for 2016 will be from Newport Beach to various spots on Catalina. Stacey has never seen Catalina, and there is no better way to enjoy the island than aboard a boat. I (Beau) grew up spending hundreds of weekends sailing to Catalina and have sea chests of memories of my times there with my family.
MAYAN at Avalon Harbor, Catalina Island, circa 1970s

MAYAN is no stranger to Catalina. While David owned her she made a number of trips to the island including one in which he and his band-mates completely cleaned out the grocery store at Avalon, having decided to go to Mexico after a few beers and realizing that they'd no provisions aboard.  As happens in every port with enter with MAYAN, I am certain someone will row up and announce: "I've partied on that boat!" (We will post about our cruise in a week or two.)

As we left Santa Cruz and headed south to Lover's Point, the middle of Monterey Bay didn’t disappoint us. There was sea life everywhere. I’m always surprised at how thrilled I am seeing the humpback whales breach, and how a pod of porpoises always make me smile as they romp up to MAYAN and start surfing her bow wave. This has been a BIG YEAR for whales.

Gene Sofen driving us south of Lover's Pt.
With the weather forecast including reasonably strong winds off of the coast north of Point Conception, we set the double reefed main, main staysail, fore staysail, and the yankee. The yankee is our smallest jib, flies from the tip of the bowsprit, and is made of heavy cloth. It loves a blow. 

We did feel a little silly for the first few hours, all reefed down and rolling slowly along against the SW swell. But by 1300 the wind was up to 25k from the NW and MAYAN was moving nicely at 8 knots. 

By 1500 the wind was up to 30k, and we lowered the main. By the 1600 watch change the wind speed was 35k and a bit beyond. The NW chop had developed nicely and was doing odd things as it crossed with the SW swell. As the wind steadily built we struck the fore staysail, then at 1700 we struck the main staysail. 

The wind speed was now a steady 40 knots with an additional 5 to 7 knots in the gusts. The NW chop was now truly magnificent as it crossed the SW swell. It was getting a little damp aboard. When the wave trains crossed the peaks were amazing, some over 18’. One decided to pay us a visit and filled the cockpit nicely! So much for dry boots!

From the left, Beau Vrolyk, Alex Rickabaugh, and Gene Sofen
MAYAN handled the breeze and bumps beautifully. Since rounding Pt. Sur we’d all been sailing hooked into the jack lines as the water sloshed around us across the deck. As the sun set we settled into the night watches, expecting the wind speed to moderate after mid-night. Another failed forecast. When Alex and Lance handed off the watch to Gene and Dick at 2000, I checked the wind instruments. Average wind speed for the previous hour had been 43 knots. Peak wind speed recorded was 51 knots. “It’s breezy out here.” Dick announced as he climbed into the cockpit. No kidding!!

MAYAN was romping through he snot and loving it!

A 15' wave rolling by, Pt. Sur in the background
As the waves would rise up behind her broad transom MAYAN would rise and rise until they washed around her. Accelerating to 12 or 14 knots, she’d create a thunderous bow wave and then the wave would pass her by. She’d gently sink into the trough and await the next wave. It was hypnotic. I sat in the cockpit watching the waves slide under her over and over again. In a more modern design, we’d have been planing at the speed of the waves, but MAYAN is far too heavy to plane. Instead, she gracefully lifts her stern, surfs a bit, and lets the wave pass with a roar. 

As the dawn grayed the sky about an hour into the 0400 watch, Gene and Dick and I sat in the cockpit entranced by the racing waves and steady 40 knot winds. The entire crew had adapted. We’d expected the wind to die off after mid-night, but it continued to howl in the rigging. Around 0630 Gene started kidding with Dick about setting the spinnaker. A 40k breeze had become our new normal. 

MAYAN's course from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles
Deciding to take advantage of the strong breeze to push us along to Los Angeles. We headed for the west end of Santa Cruz Island, where the wind in the Santa Barbara Channel would last the longest. The day passed as MAYAN continued her gentle rolling gate in the large waves and by dinner time we were abeam of Anacapa Island. Finally, the strong NW winds faded, we set the main staysail to steady us, and started the engine. With the watch on deck genuinely giddy with the simple pleasure of not having the coffee blown right out of their cups, MAYAN’s big old MBZ diesel moaned along through the night. We didn't want to arrive in Los Angeles too early, so we throttled back and made turns for 5 knots, planning our arrival at 0900. It felt as though MAYAN were crawling along, but the worst night underway is better than the best night ashore.

Powering the final run to Los Angeles. From the Left: Alex and Lance Burc
We were abeam of Los Angeles Light at 0905 and were off of Wayne’s boatyard at 0930. A civilized time to arrive on a Saturday morning. The strong breeze had let us make Los Angeles in 48.5 hours. The distance travelled over the water was about 350 nautical miles, and MAYAN had comfortably carried us along at an average of about 7.2 knots. “We sure seemed to be going faster than that!!” was the general impression of the crew. 

What we learned about MAYAN is that she is deceptively comfortable below decks even in 15 to 18 foot waves and 40+ knots of wind. So much so that various crew members would put their heads above deck and say: “I’ll be back in a minute.” appearing later wearing much heavier cloths, hats, and boots. 

Secondly, we found that MAYAN is amazing at climbing up over steep waves without letting (much of) them aboard. John Alden did a great job. Third, we found that trying to drive a displacement hull like MAYAN’s above her hull speed is dumb. She starts to fight the helmsman. Keeping boat speed below 9 knots made for a much easier passage. Hey, we’re cruising here! 

Finally, we learned that when running off in a breeze it’s best to have the center of effort well forward, pulling MAYAN by the nose, and the centerboard fully up allowing MAYAN to do her lovely sliiiiiiide sideways down the face of steep waves. This passage was the most wind and largest waves we’ve ever experienced with MAYAN, she made it look easy. As a result, we’re happily planning trips to far away places knowing that MAYAN will have little trouble taking us through the snotty bits. 

While in LA, MAYAN will spend a few months at Wayne’s “boat spa” getting her various bit renewed and improved. After two years of sailing her, we’ve decided to change a few thing and continue putting MAYAN back to the way John Alden designed her. We’ve concluded that Mr. Alden really knew a few things about the way that schooners should be designed. Once MAYAN has had her spa treatment, we’ll cruise her in southern California before bring her north again to Santa Cruz in the fall, and once again race and cruise her in Santa Cruz and San Francisco. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Master Mariner's Race, San Francisco Bay, 2016

The fleet at Encina YC after racing
A few times a year the classic boat community on San Francisco Bay gathers to celebrate their lovely old boats with a friendly race. The grandpa of them all is the Master Mariner's Regatta. It's an event that has been run on and off since 1867, well before the more famous America's Cup race. Its origin was to raise money for the widows and orphans of sailors lost at sea.

Today marine industry companies still sponsor competitors, and folks rarely admit to the side bets our ancestors used to brag about. This year MAYAN was thrilled to be sponsored by Latitude-38, our local sailing magazine. Thankfully, there aren't many sailors lost at sea these days, but the comradery and fun of pushing classic wooden boats around the SF Bay in a breeze have carried on, as has the philanthropy.

The crew of MAYAN gathered at the StFYC docks early on Saturday morning on the 28th of May. Twenty-five strong and ready to sail. Some, the veterans of other races, guided the new crew to lines one simply doesn't find on a modern boat. Peak and throat halyards were pointed out, the Gollywobbler was tied into stops, and the art of flying trapezoidal sails was explained. Finally, the skipper took a few minutes to take the crew through a safety review and a preview of the strategy for the race. "Two primary rules." were announced. "First, keep the people inside the boat. Second, keep the water outside of the boat. If we do those two things, everything else will be a lot more fun."

Our course was the traditional Bay Tour style shown on the right. We would start between the StFYC "A" mark and the GGYC "X" mark, heading north to Little Harding buoy. Leaving it to port, we'd then sail upwind to Blackhaller buoy and leave it to port as well. From there it was downwind to Blossom Rock buoy, but a strong flood would encourage us to gybe out to the middle of the bay for the favorable current. After leaving Blossom Rock to port we'd sail a broad reach almost due north to Southampton Shoal and leave that mark to starboard. Once around we'd retrace our track to channel buoy "R4", sailing on the wind again, leave it to port, and sail a broad reach to the east of Treasure Island to find the finish line. This was measured as a 15.6 nm race course.

Lance, Chief Data Officer
For those who haven't sailed on San Francisco Bay, the wind fans out from the Golden Gate. (On the left of the chart above) This means that a wind direction of 270° at the start will have shifted to about 240° at Little Harding, and a wind direction of 280° at Blossom Rock will have shifted to at least 220° at Southampton Shoal. This, combined with a similar fanning out of the flood tide, means that sailing the rhumb line is almost never the fastest way to the next mark. Fortunately, we had two great navigators aboard. Stan Honey on deck and Lance Berc as "Chief Data Officer" manning the navigations computers below. (Hey, just because we're a 69-year-old schooner doesn't mean we're not up to date with all the latest navigational technology ;) This team allowed the helmsman (Beau) to focus on sailing the boat and delegate the details of where to drive the boat.

Starting a race on a 70,000 lbs schooner is all about maintaining boat speed heading into the starting line. Fortunately, the start was set as a beam reach and we could enter from the west end of the line. This meant we could get MAYAN moving nicely on a broad reach and make a nice smooth turn towards the line at the appropriate time. Synthia Petroka, our foredeck boss, let us know we were about four seconds late to the starting line. We'll have to work on that for next year!!
Skip Allen

As we gybed towards the starting line the crew set the large advance staysail, under the watch full eye of crew-boss Skip Allen. Grinding in the genoa and advance staysail kept the cockpit crew busy as MAYAN turned north onto a beam reach.

For those of you who've sailed on schooners, this will be no surprise. As the genoa and the advance drew full and by MAYAN accelerated to full speed and simply took off across the bay at 8.5 knots, leaving the other boats who shared our start in our wake.

LYDIA (left) and MAYAN at the start
Crossing the flood tide is always complex. On San Francisco Bay the flood starts first along the City Front, where the starting line was located. Then, as the boat sails north, she will sail into less flood and even a little residual ebb tide. Finally, as we enter the deeper water near Little Harding buoy the strong flood current will re-appear. At each of these tidal transitions MAYAN's leeway will change. To sail the shortest possible course, the heading of the boat must be adjusted to the new current. The chatter between the Navigator and the Chief Data Officer was continuous, with updates on the compass course the helmsman should steer being adjusted every few minutes.

From the left: Beau, Jeff Lawson, Stan Honey
As we approached Little Harding buoy on a port broad reach, the boats which started earlier were returning towards us on starboard tack. This made the combination of avoiding the oncoming traffic, which had the right-of-way, and continuing to sail the straightest possible course to the mark challenging. Fortunately, everyone kept a sharp look out and there weren't any close calls. Again, the absolute trust that the helmsman had with his crew meant that he could focus on sailing fast and avoid the distractions of looking around for the on-coming traffic.

MAYAN made a clean port rounding and beat towards Yellow Bluff under genoa, main staysail, and full mainsail. With only 25 knots of wind, we were short on sail area, but we've learned that setting the large advance staysail forces us to sail so low that we can't make up for the low angle with better boat speed. (More in a future post on how we plan on fixing that.) Knowing that MAYAN isn't weatherly and that there was a 3-knot flood tide in the middle of the Golden Gate, we took two port tacks which put us near Pt. Cavallo before we struck south towards Blackhaller buoy.

Blackhaller buoy with Pt. Cavallo in the background
As we rounded Blackhaller buoy and gybe set our spinnaker and advance staysail, there was some discussion about how close we came to the buoy. "Not to worry," the helmsman remarked. "The only thing that touched the buoy was the spray from our bow wave."

As the sloops with their symmetrical spinnakers ran close ashore down the City Front, MAYAN with her schooner rig was forced to sail out towards Alcatraz to keep moving and in the hope of finding a stronger flood tide. We found it and managed to pass a few more boats as we rumbled along at 8 to 10 knots.
Nadine Franczyk trim, Dick Watts grinder

It is always deceiving, sailing downwind on MAYAN within the flat waters of San Francisco Bay. The water looks choppy in the strong Bay winds, but the complete lack of swell means that MAYAN stands up straight and hardly moves as she plows along. With our boat speed steadily above 8 knots and a 2-knot favorable current, Blossom Rock buoy was coming up fast. Watching Nadine trimming and Dick grinding the spinnaker sheet, I was struck by the crew sailing the ponderously heavy MAYAN as if she were a small boat. It was great. We ground down a few more competitors.

The foredeck crew
The leg to Southampton shoal was too tight for the spinnaker, so the foredeck crew set the genoa and doused the chute. The sign of a great foredeck is that it's silent. Synthia, with the help of Sally Honey, Liz Kroft, Gene Sofen, and Paul Manning made it look easy. No drama, no yelling, just sails up and down right on time.

For those who've not worked a foredeck that includes a 14' bowsprit, this is no easy feat. No roller furling, everything is on hanks. Drop a sail from the bowsprit, it's under the bow. Lose the spinnaker, you've yards of shredded nylon. This team made it all look easy!

Our navigation team let me know that we couldn't lay the R4 buoy from Southampton Shoal mark, so we made a smooth rounding on to port and tacked back to starboard once we'd settled everything down. Discovering that we were still not laying R4, we took another port tack up towards Pt. Blunt before tacking when we were certain that we'd fetch the next mark. Then things began to get interesting....

Peter Mattsson inquiring why they hadn't tacked
As we approached R4 we noticed that the cutter BRIGHT STAR had struck the buoy and was slowly moving to windward of it while inspecting the bowsprit and hull for damage. At the same time, the ketch PEGASUS was approaching the mark on port and was focused on the injured BRIGHT STAR. Despite repeated hails of "Starboard" from MAYAN, PEGASUS was showing no signs of either turning to pass astern or tacking to avoid us.  Finally, when it was clear that PEGASUS wasn't going to give way, we crash tacked MAYAN to avoid a collision. One of our crew endeavored to find out why PEGASUS hadn't tacked or ducked, using the best of polite sailor language. ;)
MAYAN's track near mark R4

At one point the two heavy boats were only five feet apart, but calamity was avoided and the crew spun MAYAN around and eventually rounded the mark. PEGASUS did her penalty turn and not only apologized when we reached the dock but provided the crew with enough drink tickets to stand a full round for all hands. Everyone was aware of how close we'd come to serious damage, a lesson for us all. It is amusing to take a look at our GPS track as we sorted out our schooner rig following the crash tack. (right)

Elsewhere on the race course this day two boats did collide. The smaller was dismasted and the larger had her bowsprit broken. All these boats are large, heavy, and difficult to maneuver. If we have one cautionary statement it is: "Leave more than two boat lengths between all boats." It is simply too risky to cut things close.

Injured BRIGHT STAR (left) being passed by MAYAN
With R4 behind us, it was a broad reach in 25-27 knot winds to the finish. This is MAYAN's strongest point of sail and she loves a breeze. She started to rumble!  BRIGHT STAR, PEGASUS, JADE, and ELIZABETH MUIR lay ahead of us. We passed BRIGHT STAR first, making up the four minutes we'd spent sorting ourselves out at R4. Then, slowed by their penalty turn, we caught and passed PEGASUS.

MAYAN by 18" for the win!
There was less than half a mile to the finish line. To leeward ELIZABETH MUIR had become pinned to leeward of RUBY and was struggling to break free. As MAYAN overhauled them both ELIZABETH MUIR broke through and accelerated rapidly. But MAYAN managed to rumble by and get the gun by only 18". It was a hold-your-breath finish. The first three boats were only separated by four seconds!! Racing doesn't get much closer than that.

Cheers were shouted, beers were opened, and MAYAN sailed on to Encinal Yacht Club in Alameda to collect the Dead Eye trophy for first in Marconi 1.

Four men on the main sheet
Stacey and I couldn't be more pleased with the way the entire crew sailed. New hands and old, everyone pitched in and brought MAYAN home safely and into first place in class. We've learned that MAYAN loves a breeze, and she could have used a bit more this day, but with a breeze comes hard work. Glancing over my shoulder after I called for a bit more mainsail trim, I had to smile when I saw that it took four strong men to gather in that last six inches of the main sheet. We really do need to get a winch on that line!

Thank you to everyone aboard! Stacey and I really appreciate the great effort!

The crew: Alex Rickabaugh, Amy Manning, Carol Gordon, Chris Hofmann, Dick Watts, Elizabeth Anathan, Gene Sofen, Jack Gordon, Jeffrey Lawson, Lance Berc, Lisa Corsetti, Liz Croft, Nadine Franczyk, Paul Elliot, Paul Manning, Peter Mattsson, Sally Honey, Serge Zavarin, Skip Allen, Stan Honey, Synthia Petroka, Tom Lewin, Will Campbell.

Photo Credits: Liz Croft, Will Campbell, Serge Zavarin - Thank YOU!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Catching Up

We have not been sailing MAYAN much this winter. Storms filled the Santa Cruz Harbor mouth with sand and even with her centerboard pulled up, she was trapped. The hard working crew on the dredge finally caught up a month ago and we were free to set sail and enjoy a beautiful springtime. As always, the early trips bring out the gremlins and MAYAN certainly has her share. Our wind instruments failed, the fuel system needed attention and who left all this stuff sitting around where it would fall over when we sailed?

Our first event of the season was taking the El Toro sailors from the Santa Cruz Yacht Club (SCYC) out for a day sail. These are our youngest sailors, from about 8 to 14, and as they formed up on the dock preparing to come aboard we were struck by their excitement. The El Toro is an 8' pram (picture on the left) that is often the first boat a kid is allowed to sail on their own. A tough and surprisingly seaworthy craft, she takes good care of her sailor. Our Jr. El Toro team usually sails on a lake, and for many of them, this would be their first trip out onto the open ocean. 

,Twenty-five strong, the kids streamed aboard and started to explore MAYAN. We were also joined by eight of their parents and three of MAYAN's typical crew. We're always amazed that a crew this size simply disappears aboard and it doesn't seem crowded. After a quick safety briefing, we got underway and there were some exclamations of joy as MAYAN's bow lifted to the first swell at the harbor mouth. I'm too old encrusted to yell as a wave lifts the bow, but it's always a great feeling. 

Once the lowers were set (mainsail, main staysail, and fore staysail) each kid got a chance to take the helm. "I can't see where I'm going." exclaimed one of our younger sailors. So a watch was set on the bowsprit (see picture on the right) to call out if any boat or ship were to be in our path. The first thing heard was "Porpoises!" and ten small sailors rushed the foredeck.  Then "Whale!" As our small crewkids worked the wheel one particularly little girl couldn't put on more weather helm, it was just too hard to turn the wheel. Without pause she simply climbed up on the pegs of the wheel and bounced, moving the wheel to the right position. This kid is a sailor!

With the line at the helm formed up, each sailor got a chance to sail MAYAN for 15-20 minutes, perform a gybe and generally sail wherever they wanted to. The looks of incredulity were replaced by big smiles as we told them they couldn't hurt MAYAN and she would simply go wherever they pointed her, provided it wasn't straight up wind. To convince a few of them that they really couldn't do any harm, we did a few circles with the lowers slowly swinging from tack to tack and gybe to gybe. Even the parents relaxed as they realized that nothing terrible was going to happen.

As we sailing along I explained to the kids that schooner rigs were developed by working sailors who wanted a weatherly rig that could be sailed by a very small crew. The fishermen of New England deserve the credit for our modern schooner rig. Each day fishing on the Banks the crew would be dropped off in their dories as the schooner sailed a large slow circle under main staysail alone. Only the ship's cook and ship's boy were left aboard to tend to the ship, which was well over 100' long. At the end of the day, the boy and the cook would slowly sail around picking up the dories, their cargo and their crew. Aboard some schooners the skipper would bring his family along. They'd take on the job of sailing the ship while the men were fishing. After years of development, these two masted schooners became easy to sail and could stay at sea through the gales and storms of the north Atlantic. 

Once MAYAN's diminutive crew had settled into a routine of waiting for their trick at the helm and catting with their friends. They looked for a bit of fun/mischief to get into. It was wonderful to see them find a game I played as a kid and my children played when they were aboard. One kid will jump down the boobie hatch (the fore hatch for those who aren't schooner sailors), then dash aft down the alleyway, through the galley, across the saloon and up the main companionway into the cockpit. Then race forward to repeat the process. As some of the crew ran 'round the boat, others sat down with one of our regular crew, Alex, who taught them how to re-pack an inflatible lifejacket.  Cruising on a large stable platform, like MAYAN, changes sailing. There's time and space to indulge other activites beyond just sailing the boat, and there's little as nice to see as kids in the share of the fore staysail learning a seamanlike task.

As the day faded we returned our small sailors to the dock and said good bye. It was wonderful to see MAYAN do such a great job at her appointed mission. We chose her because we've grand children coming along and we wanted to provide a way for them to learn seamanship and go voyaging with us. It's looking like MAYAN was a great choice.

Two weeks later we hosted the Scholastic Sailors from SCYC. These are the high-school juniors and seniors who normally race Lasers, FJs, and small keel boats - all quite athletic forms of sailing. Unlike the El Toro sailors, this crew immediately took over the foredeck, leaving their parents and our crew in the cockpit alone. Teenagers, they're beyond needing us.

As one of their parents dashed up in a RIB, they all lined up for a quick photo, then set to work hoisting the lowers and the outer jib. Initially we had a bit more wind, so we tucked a reef in the mainsail to avoid any drama. Of course, having done that, the wind immediately fadded away and left us slowly cruising along.

We shared the day with the Moore-24 Pacific Coast Championship, which was particularly fun as one of the Moores, MERCEDES, was crewed by Scholastic sailors. MAYAN did a small sail-by to encourage the crew. They are the Moore with the red strip in the picture to the left.

MERCEDES represents a second generation Moore sailing family, kids who grew up at the Club, and who are now making their place in a fleet born in Santa Cruz. It's great to see.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Otter Cup - Elkhorn YC - 2015

May 16, 2015 -- For many years the Elkhorn Yacht Club, located in Moss Landing, has hosted a wonderful reaching race from the waters outside their harbor, to a buoy off of Monterey and back again.  A few of us left Santa Cruz harbor early and took MAYAN by power to Moss Landing in time to arrive for the 0930 hours skipper's meeting.  The winds were looking painfully light again, and the memories of our slow and frustrating sail in the Leukemia Cup lingered.

As always EYC was warm and welcoming.  The race committee did a good job of briefing us, warming us with hot coffee, and sending us out to the race course.  For those of you who haven't been to EYC, the MAYAN crew would highly recommend investigating this jewel of a club.  No flash, just sailors enjoying sailing to the fullest.  Elkhorn Yacht Club

The Otter Cup Course
The race course was simple and looked to be perfect for a schooner like MAYAN that loves to reach.  The only difficulty was going to be that short little beat directly into a 6-8 knots westerly wind.  We've been learning how to sail MAYAN in light winds (those painful memories of the Leukemia Cup haunting us again) but it is hardly our strong suit.

Approaching the start, which was a beam reach start on Starboard, we underestimated the additional speed MAYAN would show on a reach and found ourselves early by about a minute.  We are clearly still learning how to judge her speed.  Turning the boat up and down wind a lot to slow her down started to fail as competitors formed up around us on our final run-up to the line, so we were forced to reduce our boat speed by easing sheets.  While we were on the line at the gun and had "won" the start, we were only moving at about 3 knots and the ARIEL, a C&C-110, passed by us to windward.

For the next one hour and fifteen minutes we painfully beat two miles upwind in 4 to 8 knots of shifty breezes.... frustrating to say the least.  We rounded the windward mark dead last, seriously - dead last, behind the Cal 25, really seriously... last.  MAYAN is not a light wind boat.  We had confirmed our lousy ability to go upwind in light air.

Then everything started to get better.  The wind built slowly over the course of the ten mile beam reach to Monterey.  The sun came out.  With the genoa, advance staysail and mainsail we spread as much sail area as we could on a tight reach and MAYAN started to do what schooners do well.

MAYAN starting her move.  (Credit: Un Bel Di)
Our friends on UN BEL DI, the Cal 25, started snapping photos as we moved past them giving us some of the best pictures of our restored schooner we've seen so far.

As the wind moved aft slowly, we were able to set the forestaysail and MAYAN started to average about 6 knots over the ground in what had built to a steady 12 knot breeze.

With no complexity to the leg the crew relaxed and enjoyed the ride.  One of the great joys of being MAYAN's caretaker has been that Stacey and I have been able to invite a tremendous group of sailors aboard to share the rare joy of schooner sailing.  With so few of these old girls still sailing, let alone racing, our friends have turned up in large numbers to share the experience.

In this race we had to wonderful helmsmen who paired up to relieve me: Bill Lee and Lou Pambianco.  There were smiles all around and I got a chance to spend some time fussing with the sail trim up forward, and catching up with old friends.  The wind continued to build and move aft and by the time we reached Monterey it was relatively steady at 14 knots.  Bill guided us through the gybe gracefully, the crew brought the sails around and we were off again back to Moss Landing.

MAYAN doing what schooners do best: reaching
By the Monterey mark MAYAN had reeled in all but two competitors, and we appeared to be gaining on them.  With about ten miles left in the race, it would be difficult to catch the C&C but we provided a bit of a photo shoot for the boats still sailing towards Monterey and the boat in second.

We decided to hold a bit high of the finish line and then set the spinnaker.  As you all know, we're really just learning how to sail MAYAN and in hindsight it would have been better to simply sail the rhumb line as she doesn't gain much speed from the spinnaker.

After a wonderful dry and relaxing sail back to Moss Landing, we finished in second place, and believed we had saved our time on the C&C.  It is nearly impossible to provide a single number rating for two boats as different as the C&C and MAYAN.  If the race had included more distance sailing upwind, we would have been last.  But with 20 of the 24 miles of the race course being reaches in enough wind to get MAYAN moving, the advantage shifted to the schooner.  Aboard MAYAN we were amazed that she was so very slow upwind and so very fast on a reach.

As always the EYC put on a great meal after the race, there was great camaraderie in the bar, and we were thrilled to receive MAYAN's first ever First Place trophy.  We have sailed at Elkhorn Yacht Club in the past and have always enjoyed their tremendous hospitality.  Later this year we'll be back for the Double Angle Race, a crazy fun race course in which boats start from both Santa Cruz and Monterey, go around a mark in the middle of Monterey Bay (rounding in opposite directions simultaneously), and then run downwind to Moss Landing.  The party after that race is a legend amongst Monterey Bay racers.  The MAYAN crew will be there!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Leukemia Cup - Santa Cruz YC - 2105

MAYAN's first Leukemia Cup
Santa Cruz YC, Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

MAYAN with her advance staysail hanging
It is always great to support a cause like the Leukemia Cup.  The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society supports a massive amount of research into the elimination of all forms of blood cancers, a cause that is near to my heart.  My Dad, who taught us all to sail, died of multiple myeloma.  Then a few years ago my good friend Dave Emberson came down with Leukemia. Even since we've worked hard to help when we could - so this event was for Dad and Dave.

The day started out cool, calm, and overcast, with a gigantic all-star cast aboard sorting out the multiple strings that dangle from MAYAN's two masts.  One of the more interesting sails is the advance staysail, which you can see hanging from its halyards in the picture on the right.  Named for the schooner ADVANCE, a Starling Burgess design, which was the first to sport a sail like this, the advance staysail replaced the gaff foresail that used to occupy the space between the fore and main masts on many schooners.  With the luff running all the way up the foremast and the foot as close to the deck as we dare, the advance staysail is perfect for the light winds that had been forecast.

Once the crew had assembled, we set out for the calm waters outside our small harbor in Santa Cruz. The forecast was for 8-10 knots of wind from the southwest, but our first half hour was spent simply trying to get the sails to fill in near nonexistent winds. In the picture to the left you can see the large genoa, advance staysail and mainsail set with just enough wind to fly the flags.  Some have commented that MAYAN looks a bit down by the stern. Well, we had 28 crew aboard and at least half of them were in the cockpit at this point.

This was to be our first race in N. California.  That combined with the great cause it was supporting, resulted in every person we asked showing up to crew on MAYAN. As we left the dock Beau counted heads and came up with 28!  This was a new record for MAYAN during our stewardship and we were thrilled to see that everyone was comfortable.  Indeed, we could have accommodated 6 or 8 more folks aboard!

Lawson Family at the Rail
The crew was wonderfully competent with world champions, a yacht designer, professional crew men and women, along with some of the most adorable little kids we've seen aboard any boat.  For Stacey and Beau, a major component of MAYAN's mission is to sail with friends, family and most of all kids.  MAYAN was proving to do a great job of all parts of that mission.

The Lawson family had brought the entire team, and they all seemed to be having a great time!  While the munchkins played in the cockpit and below under Dannie's watchful gaze, their Dad (Jeff) hauled the main sheet and provided Beau with a spare pair of eyes spotting boats and marks.

The race format was a pursuit start, slowest boat first, which theoretically should have all the boats finishing at the same time.  The course was basically a windward/leeward course twice around.  Beau got us to the starting line about a minute late, which in schooner-time is close enough (but needs to improve).  Most importantly, no people, glass or wood was injured during the start.  The PHRF handicap MAYAN has received from the Monterey Bay PHRF committee matched her up boat-for-boat with the Catalina 30s.

Bill Lee
With the wind hovering around 6 knots, it became critical to keep the boat moving.  With over 68,000 pounds to move, MAYAN will stubbornly stand completely still with her sails full until she decides to grandly accelerate.  Eventually we set off around the race course and the wind built to about 8 knots.  Beau turned the helm over to Bill Lee for a bit, and the two of them discussed her sailing characteristics in these non-schooner conditions.

With the wind this light, and our entire crew completely new to sailing schooners, we struggled with the first beat.  After rounding Wharf Mark the crew scurried around re-setting the sails for a broad reach.

Gollywobbler and A1 set on the foremast of MAYAN
Schooners are known for being able to reach well, but usually there's a bit more wind.... oh well.  Up went the A1 (asymmetrical spinnaker) tacked to the bowsprit and sheeting about amidships.  Shaped more like the spinnaker for a Aussie-18' skiff than a big boat, this sail drew beautifully and MAYAN started to move.  Next the gollywobbler was set to leeward of the advance staysail and the advance hauled down.  The gollywobbler is another sail that is set between the masts, tacked at the foot of the foremast and hoisted to the top of both the fore and main masts.  It is made of spinnaker cloth, light and strong, and fulfills the needs of a main mast spinnaker.  Aboard MAYAN,  both sails are marked with the MAYAN logo on a broad yellow/orange band.  If only we'd had enough wind to really fill them!

The next mark was SC3, east towards Capitola, so we had a nice long reach to try and get MAYAN moving.... but the wind stayed very very light.  As we approached SC3 the advance staysail went back up, the gollywobbler came down, the genoa went back up, the A1 came down and the crew rounded the mark close along side and kept the old girl's speed up.  Nicely done!

A crew of 28 on the windward rail
In slightly stronger winds of 12knots, MAYAN began to move more easily, but we still hadn't figured out how to get her to point. Perhaps she just doesn't point? Bill repeated the wonderful old joke about schooners: "When you watch a schooner going upwind, you keep wondering why the boat in the back doesn't tack to clear her air." He got quite a chuckle from that one.  As we returned to Wharf Mark to round again and head dead down wind to Black's Point Mark the wind died off again and MAYAN began to wallow a bit.

Finally, abeam of the Santa Cruz Harbor, Beau called Homer on the VHF radio.  "Homer, go ahead and head in, we're going to withdraw."  Homer thanked us and we started taking sails down.  We had ended up last by well over a mile.  Not our best day as a race boat, but one of our best days ever at having a great time on the water.

The Santa Cruz YC hosted a terrific party after racing with great conversations, drinks, food, and awards.  Team MAYAN managed to win on shore, even if she was dead last on the water.  Thank you to ALL the generous folks who donated to the effort.  MAYAN raised more money than the organizers had set as a goal for the entire event!  Well done!!!

We will be making this an annual event for MAYAN, so please continue to look kindly on the email pleas for funds that will start appear early in 2016.  Hopefully, we'll get a race day with a bit of breeze so that we can have a little better showing on the water.  Again, THANK YOU for your tremendous support for our efforts and fund raising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Making Progress

ImageOK, today we completed and did a sea trial on the new autopilot and the quick release for the wheel. The Admiral and I have been worried about the damage that OttO could do to small arms and faces by spinning the open spoke pegged wheel quickly in a crowded cockpit. Give OttO has the power to spin the wheel six turns in 20 seconds and exerts the equivalent of 380 lbs of pressure on the outer pegs of the wheel, clearly he could hurt someone.   First, we took MAYAN out of the LA harbor and powered around in the glass flat sea. No testing the wave handling or sailing (no wind to speak of). Through out the time OttO performed perfectly.  He ramps up the speed at which he turns the wheel, spun MAYAN to nearly the new course, and then started to back the helm off quickly and then more slowly as MAYAN reached course.  I was impressed. This OttO is NOTHING like the OttO that was in S'AGPAO! MAYAN has a LOT of weight in the steering worm gear, the rudder shaft and the rudder itself; because of this the Jefa guys told me that only the Raymarine unit will gently speed up and slow down the power on their drive unit, making it easer on all the old heavy gear in MAYAN.ImageSecond, going back to the wheel spinning around and potentially hurting someone....  First, a quick look at the display for OttO mounted on the after side of the binnacle. It's pretty much hidden from everyone except the helms person. I can put up with this much "new" tech.  Now back to keeping the wheel from damaging someone. Wayne and I had discussed a pin through the wheel hub that one could pull and then the wheel would spin easily. That was two weeks ago. When we got to MAYAN today, we found a MUCH BETTER idea had been built. Typically, Wayne didn't bother talking about it, he just built it. So.....   Mounted aft of the wheel, around the steering gear main shaft, is a bronze collar, see picture on the right. In the collar there are two stainless steel screws, with unthreaded ends. You can see one of them on the right side of the collar in the picture below. These pins run in two grooves shaped like an inverted "J", you can see one on the top of the shaft and there is another on the opposite side of the shaft. When the collar is "locked", as it is in the picture on the right, the pins are in the short end of the "J" and hold the collar tightly against the wheel hub.
To free the wheel, so that it won't turn when OttO turns the rudder, one grabs the collar and twist the top of it to the left in the picture (to port). There is a small click as the pins get around the curve of the "J" and then the collar can slide aft on the shaft a distance a bit bigger than the thickness of the wheel's hub. In the picture on the left, the collar has been moved aft.

ImageNow that the collar has been freed from the wheel, the wheel is free to slide aft along the shaft. In the picture below you can see the wheel in it's "free" position. In this position the wheel sits still and the shaft is free to turn within it. The key, which normally locks the wheel to the shaft, has been attached to the shaft so that it can't fall out and it has been modified with a "V" on the aft end (facing towards the wheel) so that one can push the wheel forward on the shaft more easily to re-engage the wheel.
When we pull when wheel back and let OttO drive, I'll tie the wheel so no one accidentally pushes it forward or tries to turn it and it spins out from under them. We don't have a lot of hours on this system so far, but our first four hours were great.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Catching Up - Progress on the Interior

I must apologize for not having updated this blog in quite awhile.  Once again I've failed at retirement and the press of work has anchored me in San Francisco, far from our lovely MAYAN.  She remains at Wayne's boatyard in Wilmington with he and his crew hard at work on completing the tasks I left partially done, in addition to his many other jobs aboard.

While stuck in an office working, I've spend a little time working on the history of our lovely schooner and was thrilled when the grandson of her builder sent this along.  He has been researching his grandfather's dockyard in Belize and had the pen-n-ink done from a composite of family pictures.  A big THANK YOU to Robert Tewes for getting this lovely piece of art for all of us who love MAYAN and great old dockyards.

As I've mentioned earlier, part of the re-fit of MAYAN includes building a proper head with a shower, adding some berths forward, and rebuilding the starboard side of the saloon to make the seating more comfortable.  These projects are proceeding nicely.  I suppose some of the credit for the progress goes to me for not being there to constantly distract the team with silly questions. 

The new refrigeration, water tank and holding tank have been installed in the head, outboard and to port. (see above)  You can see that all of the wood that will be painted has been covered with red-lead paint prior to final finish.  This is the best technique we know of to stop dry rot and mildew. 

With that complete, Wayne has been able to start making real progress installing the bulkheads that he has built to enclose the space.  In this first picture the central athwartship bulkhead which divides the shower from the head forward of it is being installed.  (BTW, that's Wayne back there fitting the panel.)

The way that Wayne assembles the interior allows us to remove these bulkheads to access the equipment outboard of it and also allows us to remove them for re-finishing when required.  You can see that the central panels of the bulkhead have been sealed and have already received a couple of coats of varnish.  Prior to assembly, all the bulkheads, doors and panels will be completely finished with 8 coats of varnish.  Below is the same bulkhead viewed from the galley, aft of the head spaces. The shower will be on the left and the head is visible beyond the bulkhead.

Just forward of the head space, where the head used to be located, Wayne has built a berth and will build a storage space below it. While the camera has shortened the look of this berth, it is a full 6'6" long and full width.  These pieces have been dry-fit and will be removed for varnishing soon.  The sleeper's head will be aft, to the left in this picture and you can just see the opening at the foot of the berth to allow air-flow to the fo'c's'le in hot weather.

This next picture shows the opening from the passageway berth above into the fo'c's'le.  It will have a door for privacy.

While air flow is certainly valuable, one of our primary goals of MAYAN's mission is to be a great place for grandchildren.   The fo'c's'le will be their space and Stacey and I think it'll be great fun for them to be able to climb through the opening at the foot of the berth, and to have whomever is sleeping there get their toes tickled when they least expect it.  If you're crewing aboard MAYAN you'll need a sense of humor! ;)

Moving forward into the fo'c's'le in the picture above you can see a panel below the opening leading to the passageway berth.  This is part of the base of the two berths we're building up forward.  In the next picture you can see the same berth with the wide central area in the bow.  This platform provides a place to stand while moving sails up through the foredeck booby hatch, and will also make a great tiny person berth.  At the moment it's serving as sail storage.

Finally, Wayne has put together a wonderful video on how he built the raised panels for MAYAN.  Please enjoy it here: